PHC4 Research Brief - Clostridium difficile Infections in Pennsylvania Hospitals- News Release


Contact: Joe Martin, Communications Director
717-232-6787 or


Harrisburg, PA – May 11, 2007 – In 2005, there were 20,941 Pennsylvania hospitalizations in which patients had Clostridium difficile-associated disease (CDAD), up from 7,026 in 1995, according to a new research brief released today by the Pennsylvania Health Care Cost Containment Council (PHC4). CDAD is a potentially life-threatening infection resulting from Clostridium difficile (often called C. diff), which is a spore-forming bacteria that can live in the intestine. The report does not distinguish between infections that are community-acquired or hospital-acquired.

"C. diff infections can be hospital-acquired or community-acquired," said Marc P. Volavka, Executive Director of PHC4. "Yet, no matter where they are contracted, the significant increases in both the number of CDAD hospitalizations and the mortality rate among CDAD patients illuminate a growing public health concern."

In 2005, patients with CDAD were hospitalized two and a half times longer, charged more than twice as much and were four times as likely to die as patients without CDAD.

Specifically, the mortality rates for patients with and without CDAD in 2005 were 8.7% and 2.1%, respectively. On average, patients with CDAD stayed in the hospital almost seven days longer than patients without CDAD. Whereas the average charge of a hospitalization with CDAD was $73,576, the average charge for a hospitalization without CDAD was $30,833.

People who have had recent treatment with antibiotics are at greater risk for CDAD since antibiotics can affect the "healthy" bacteria in the intestine, which allows C. difficile bacteria to multiply. CDAD can be spread by health care workers who have contact with CDAD patients or by touching surfaces that are contaminated with C. difficile spores. The disease caused by C. difficile infections can range from mild cases of diarrhea to more severe conditions, such as colitis, bloodstream infections or death.

Other findings:

The Pennsylvania Health Care Cost Containment Council is an independent state agency charged with collecting, analyzing and reporting information that can be used to improve the quality and restrain the cost of health care in Pennsylvania. Copies of "Clostridium difficile Infections in Pennsylvania Hospitals" are free and available on the Council's website at or by calling PHC4 at 717-232-6787.